BALANCE was key when playing alongside Test stars Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau in the Dragons' back row and the same applies now as we prepare to get under way in the Guinness PRO14.

After my 13th pre-season I can't wait to get up and running against Benetton tomorrow night – I have been given a specific role to play and now I have to do my job.

Ollie Griffiths' focus will be the contact area, Aaron Wainwright is the dynamic ball carrier and I am the workhorse in the middle, freeing the 'youngsters' up, I suppose.

If I look after the lineout, certainly in defence, then it gives them free rein to do what they have done so well.

You don't want to see explosive players like Ollie and Aaron at the bottom of a ruck or doing the donkey work clearing people out, you want them to have ball in hand in space and creating problems for the opposition's defence.

I am more than happy to do my jobs to get those boys in the right positions and it's about putting the best people in the best roles.

Ollie and Wainwright are young internationals and have a big future of the Dragons and I guess it is similar to when Dan was chop-tackling and I was more of a 'jackaler' with seven on my back, finishing second in the league charts once upon a time.

I'd like to think one of my strengths throughout my career has been my ability to adapt at 6, 7 or 8, whether throughout the 80 minutes or throughout a season.

I pride myself on being versatile and having a wide variety of skills to play across the back row, happy to adapt and striving to put in the performances that make sure available to be in the XV or 23 whatever my role.

It's that time of year where team selection is so prevalent in a player's mind, especially when competition is so strong.

As I've said so often since doing this column, because of back row depth that has always been the case since I broke through at the Dragons back in 2006.

It's going to be a fight for the starting line-up across the board and we all have to perform given the number of players battling to get into it – just look at the young boys with loads of energy in our Under-23s.

I've been asked if this is the best team I've ever been a part of in my time at the Dragons. It is a difficult one to answer with previous internationals and Lions over the years, but I think it's fair to say that it is certainly the strongest squad with the best strength in depth.

This pre-season has been so much better than last year for me personally and the squad.

It has been a long build-up to the PRO14, partly because we didn't do as well as we would have liked in 2017/18 so finished early and then started back earlier than our rivals.

That has been a good thing because there have been a lot of new faces at Ystrad Mynach, both in terms of players and backroom staff.

It was important to get in early to get to know each other and to get our structures nailed down. Things have gone well and it's all looking positive ahead of the PRO14.

Our target is certainly to win a lot more games and be talked about a lot in a positive way, changing a few perceptions.

The Scarlets are comfortably the best team in Wales, playing outstanding rugby that has earned recognition in the national side, but I think we are in a similar place to the other regions now.

The WRU has enabled us to become more professional in many ways regarding resources and that should allow us to compete more consistently throughout the season.

Cardiff Blues had a great end to last season to win the Challenge Cup but have a new coach and the Ospreys are also starting a new era. We have to push and challenge them both.

It's an exciting time for us and we have to back up all our promise – we have got the players and ability but have to transfer that to the pitch.

We have got a great chance with three of our first four at home; the schedule puts a bit of pressure on us but we have to deliver for our supporters.